Serving Smoothies in the CACFP


This web page provides smoothie recipes and guidance on crediting fruit, vegetable, fluid milk, and yogurt smoothies served as part of reimbursable meals and snacks in the CACFP. Additional guidance is available in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Policy Memoranda SP 40-2019, CACFP 17-2019, SFSP 17-2019, Smoothies Offered in the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP), and the California Department of Education (CDE) Management Bulletin CNP-04-2020, Smoothies Offered in CNPs.

Serving Smoothies in the CACFP

Smoothies are a popular menu item, can be a healthful food option, and are a great way to introduce new fruits and vegetables to children through nutrition education activities. Fruit and vegetable smoothies may be credited only once per day toward a reimbursable meal or snack in the CACFP because the fruit and vegetable in the smoothies credits as juice, which may only be served once per day in reimbursable CACFP meals and snacks.

As a best practice, the majority of fruits and vegetables that children and adults consume should come from whole fruits and vegetables, including fresh, canned, frozen, and dried forms, rather than from juice, such as in a smoothie.

Follow These Crediting Tips for Serving Smoothies in the CACFP!

Meat/Meat Alternate Component

  • Dairy yogurt and soy yogurt are the only meat/meat alternates (M/MA) that are creditable in smoothies.
  • Yogurt can only credit toward the M/MA component, not toward the fluid milk component. The one exception is that adults participating in the CACFP may be offered 6 ounces (oz) (¾ cup) of yogurt in place of 8 oz (1 cup) of fluid milk at one meal or snack per day. In this situation, yogurt could credit toward the fluid milk component if yogurt is not credited toward the M/MA component in the same meal or snack.
  • Yogurt cannot contain more than 23 grams (g) of sugar per 6 oz serving. Find information on calculating sugar limits for yogurt served in the CACFP in the USDA Calculating Sugar Limits for Yogurt in the CACFP worksheet, available in English and Spanish.

Fluid Milk Component

  • The only allowable milk types are unflavored whole milk for children aged 12 through 23 months, unflavored 1 percent or fat-free milk for children aged two through five years, and unflavored 1 percent or fat-free milk and flavored 1 percent or fat-free milk for participants six years of age and older. In California, licensed child care centers and family child care homes may not serve flavored milk to children of any age due to the California Healthy Beverages in Child Care Act.

Fruit and Vegetable Components

  • Fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables that are blended and served as a smoothie credit as fruit and vegetable juice. Because juice may be used to meet the vegetable or fruit requirement at only one meal or snack per day, smoothies may only be used to meet the vegetable or fruit requirement at only one meal or snack per day in the CACFP
  • Fruits and vegetables are credited based on the volume after they have been blended or pureed. For example, 3 cups of whole raspberries credit as 2 cups fruit after pureed. The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs Interactive Web-Based Tool has yield information for some pureed fruits. For fruits or vegetables without yield information in the USDA FBG, CACFP Operators should determine crediting based on the volume after pureeing and before freezing. For example, to determine the volume of blueberry puree obtained from 1 cup of whole blueberries, separately puree the blueberries and record the resulting volume of puree to determine crediting.
  • Smoothies containing a mix of fruits and vegetables or fruit and vegetable juice blends will contribute to the food component present in the largest amount.
  • Smoothies are not reimbursable when served to infants because juice is not creditable for infants in the CACFP.

Tip! : Smoothies prepared commercially or in-house can credit toward the fluid milk, M/MA (yogurt), fruit, and vegetable components. Commercially prepared, prepackaged smoothies must be accompanied with documentation (e.g. Child Nutrition Label, product formulation statement) from the manufacturer showing the meal pattern contribution for each component.

Keep the Following in Mind When Serving Smoothies in the CACFP:

  • Grains (such as oats) may be added to smoothies, but they cannot credit toward the grain component of a reimbursable meal or snack.
  • If the amount of fruit, vegetable, M/MA, and/or fluid milk served in the smoothie does not fulfill the minimum serving sizes needed to meet the meal pattern requirements, additional components must be served with the smoothie to meet the meal pattern requirements.
  • At snack, a juice and milk smoothie can credit as either juice or fluid milk, but not both, because only one component at snack can be a beverage. In this situation, a separate, second component must be served.
  • Raw fruits and vegetables can become contaminated with harmful bacteria. To prevent foodborne illnesses, thoroughly rinse raw fruits and vegetables under running water, especially those that require peeling or cutting, like oranges, because bacteria can be found on the outer rind or peel. As an added precaution, use a small brush to remove surface dirt and cut away damaged or bruised areas, because bacteria can thrive in these places.


Fruit Smoothie: Creamy Blueberry Smoothie

Directions : Put all ingredients in a blender, blend on high until smooth, pour in a cup, and serve immediately. Makes 1 serving

Ingredients Crediting
4 fluid (fl) oz fat-free milk ½ cup fluid milk
4 oz low-fat yogurt 1 oz M/MA
½ cup blueberry puree, frozen ¼ cup fruit juice  
Veggie Smoothie: Chilled Shrek Smoothie

Directions : Put all ingredients in a blender, blend on high until smooth, pour in a cup, and serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients Crediting
4 fl oz fat-free milk ½ cup fluid milk
4 oz low-fat yogurt 1 oz M/MA
½ cup fresh-packed spinach ¼ cup vegetable juice
¼ cup banana puree ¼ cup fruit juice

1 cup ice


For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the CDSS CACFP Meal Patterns Team by email at

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